A few months back I started to write a rather serious treatise on the idea of “trauma” as suffered by adoptees and possible responses thereto, based in no small part on the post I made at Transracial Eyes concerning Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) [link]. In that piece, I attempted to reverse the usual view of so-called RAD, which blames a “dis-ease” on a thus diagnosed child, as opposed to seeing it as defined by and therefore a function of the adopter and by extension, his or her culture and society.
What was originally a rather short stab at the subject started growing as I added various reminiscences that seemed appropriate, corresponding as they did with certain painful anniversaries shall we say, the passing of my father, my 50th birthday, the almost 10 years that have elapsed since I returned to my place of birth (without finding family), as well as most recently the endless commemoration of September 11, 2001. The focus expanded further to the mediation of trauma, and our collective role in that as well, and from this, to our conceptions of place.
By the time I was finished I realized I had produced a rather sprawling document broken down more or less into 31 sections. Since we are coming up on the so-called Adoption Awareness Month of November, I have decided to preface that month with 31 days of musings on place, home, return, trauma, the communal and the individual. I think they make sense on their own, as well as in terms of the whole. At least I hope so. The near ten years I have been in Lebanon also marks the decade I’ve been activated within the adoption community. This, too, has not been without its ups and downs. At this point it seems ever clearer to me that we need move from the defensive to the offensive; from theory to action; from introspection to an expansive attempt to find common cause with like-minded souls.
I feel compelled at the outset to list the philosophical underpinnings of the text, not to be pretentious, or to play academic-style name-dropping games, but to encourage those who are looking to escape the “intractable boulder stones” that block our way forward to perhaps read up on and research other avenues of thinking; to break from the morass of what passes for thought on the subject especially as constrained within a dominant mode of discussion. In my years researching art and activism here in Beirut, I have focused on those who acknowledge the union of thought and action; theory and praxis; communal over individual. Apart from the actual departure from the place of my acculturation, this has been extremely beneficial psychologically speaking. A focus on Others forces a step toward the resolution of the issues of Self. At least this is my experience.
The short list of sources in this regard focuses on history, philosophy, pedagogy, activism, and spirituality. It includes, in no particular order: Ludwig Wittgenstein; Ali Shari‘ati; Emma Goldman; Antonio Gramsci; Winona LaDuke; Gustavo Gutiérez; Paulo Freire; Frantz Fanon; Malcolm X. A more complete bibliography of such books can be found at my web site, Mediarama [link]. I would encourage the addition via the comments section on further readings, links, or thoughts on the subject. I look forward to a fruitful discussion.
Thank you for reading.
Image: Traditional crafted door | Date: 2005 | Place: Damascus, Syria; The Danish Institute | Camera: Kodak Retina 35mm/1950s | Caption: The door as welcoming entity receives particular attention and reflects various traditional crafts: woodworking, tile, inlay, metalwork, glasswork, etc.